SBC Moves Its Ameritech Account

$80 Mil. Buying Business Leaves Carat for GSD&M in Consolidation
CHICAGO–SBC Communications is consolidating the $80 million Ameritech media-buying account at GSD&M, the client confirmed.
The Austin, Texas-based agency already handles the media buying for SBC’s Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell units, which, with Ameritech, totals about $300 million. It is also lead creative agency for Southwestern Bell.
The Ameritech business will move from Carat ICG, which won it in 1997, in 90 days.
GSD&M’s 36-person Chicago media outpost is expected to add 10 staffers, but will share the business with Austin. The Chicago operation already buys for SBC’s Cellular One and for DreamWorks SKG, a $100 million media business the shop was awarded last March in a pitch led by president Roy Spence and executive media director Judy Trabulsi.
Agency officials declined comment. An SBC representative said the move was made for efficiency.
Consolidation had been expected since SBC completed its $62 million takeover in October of the Midwest regional Bell. Ameritech’s marketing division was subsequently moved to SBC’s Texas headquarters.
Some observers noted that the media-buying shift may not bode well for Ameritech’s lead creative agency Lowe Lintas & Partners in Chicago. The agency, in its former incarnation as Ammirati Puris Lintas, unsuccessfully pitched SBC’s long-distance account in September 1996. Agency president Brad Brinegar directed questions to the client.
Carat’s general manager Susan Rowe could not be reached for comment. The shop’s office opened in Chicago to handle Ameritech, but in the past year has won an additional $40 million in new billings, landing both Papa John’s pizza chain and Amana Appliances in the fourth quarter.
In 1997, GSD&M was the big winner in SBC’s acquisition of Pacific Telesis. The shop at that time was awarded media buying for all Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell advertising, and
later picked up buying for SBC’s SNET in Connecticut.
Building up its media assignments has been part of the Austin shop’s growth strategy. In 1995, it surprised the industry when it nabbed the $180 million MasterCard media business in New York.
SBC spent $211 million on advertising in 1998 and $164 million in the first nine months of 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting.
–with staff report